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CIO50 2021 #26-50 Darrel van Dort, Humm Group

  • Name Darrel van Dort
  • Title Chief Technology Officer
  • Company Humm Group
  • Commenced role September 2019
  • Reporting Line CEO
  • Member of the Executive Team Yes
  • Technology Function 100 staff, 4 direct reports
  • Since joining FlexiGroup in 2019 as chief technology officer, Darrel van Dort and his team have overseen its transformation from “legacy leasing company” to “a global consumer finance powerhouse” he tells CIO Australia.

    It’s also changed its name to Humm Group, offering a certain onomatopoeic resonance with what senior executives and staff might perceive when turning their attention to the tech department these days.

    The company is a diversified full-service payments company with offerings in buy now pay later (BNPL), revolving credit and SME finance, with some 2.7 million customers spanning millennial spenders, young families and SMEs across A/NZ, the UK and Canada.  

    Changing customer preferences and demands have helped reshape the financial services sector over the past several years, with the tech team at Humm Group playing a pivotal role in enabling the design of innovative new products and services in response.

    Van Dort boasts that a “flawless digital experience” has meant customer satisfaction levels are now at all time highs. 

    The story begins with a major redesign of Humm Group’s digital architecture, van Dort refers to as its new ‘target state product stack’.   

    In the last two years, he and his team introduced a cloud based infrastructure, containerised micro services and platforms, automated deployments, plug and play components and systems, auto scaling of platforms based on business demand and reusable business components (e.g. rules, fraud, etc) across product verticals.

    This has enabled fast delivery, as well as digital platforms that deliver business insights and analytics, supporting data-driven decisions and continuous improvement, as well as machine learning models to support more intelligent decision making.

    “This has allowed us to establish common approaches, ways of working, innovation frameworks and technology platforms that other products – both old and new – are benefitting from,” van Dort explains. “They are also allowing us to focus on rapid speed to value deployments.”

    These systems have also paved the way for the design and development of completely new consumer finance products in Australia and New Zealand.

    One example is bundll, which Humm Group says is the world’s first BNPL everywhere product, powered by the Mastercard network and needing no merchant integration. Another is hummpro, a BNPL product aimed at small business that provides access to up to $30,000 unsecured with flexible repayment options giving customers more control over their cashflow.

    Van Dort explains that bundll is built on a cloud-based infrastructure, containerised micro services and platforms. Telemetry and Kubernetes enable auto scale, auto heal and auto recover, with automated deployments through Ansible and Terraform. Components and systems are plug-and-play, with on-demand auto scaling of platforms.

    The new digital architecture also provided Humm Group a platform to launch its anticipated humm BNPL product – aimed at larger purchases – into new global territories. Digital channels were overhauled to boost the customer experience and enable the delivery of smarter product features such as humm tap (tap and go), bundll snoozes (pausing repayments) and humm marketplace (digital discounted marketplace).

    Cashing in 

    For FY21, Humm Group grew its customer base by 20%, with app downloads up a whopping 76% to 1.2 million. BNPL volumes were up 31.3% surpassing $1 billion, with bundl and hummpro adding $122 million to the balance sheet.

    Van Dort notes that with consumer finance an increasingly crowded market, he and his team worked hard to leverage customer insights and identify opportunities to develop consumer focused products that change the way that people pay.

    Earlier this year, Humm Group entered into a partnership with Mastercard to take bundll global, with New Zealand first cab off the rank going live in the app store in August.  

    The company also recently announced a partnership with Velocity that will see its customers earn Velocity Rewards when they shop with bundll. Van Dort notes the fact bundll was built with a partnership integration layer has greatly reduced any previous friction there.

    bundll and hummpro are built with partnerships in mind so we can collaborate with other business to reach new customers and build the business in Australia as well as other global markets.”

    Australian hardware chain Mitre 10 is another partner to sign on recently, with thousands of tradies and small business owners now able to use Humm Group’s products.

    While keen to emphasise the value he and his team have delivered to the organisation, van Dort also freely admits the process of creating – and deploying –the right digital systems and solutions has been far from perfect.

    “It’s a cliché, but true, we learn so much more from the things that go wrong, than we do from the things that go right.”

    Key to having real understanding and genuine learning, he believes, is fostering genuine relationships.

    “I partner with stakeholders, rather than relying on transactional relationships,” van Dort says.

    “This allows me to understand their needs, requirements, challenges, frustrations and ideas in order to propose relevant and innovative solutions.”

    David Binning

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